Deciding How Much Substance Exposure to Be Open to as Adoptive Parents

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As part of the mounds of paperwork to be completed in the adoption application, each family will be presented with a conditional questionnaire. Among other things, you will be asked to contemplate your comfort level regarding exposure to possible harmful substances or the chance of a child being born with special needs to be cared for. This form presents an additional load of questions that will lead you one step closer to bringing home an adopted child you feel you will be equipped to offer a stable and suitable environment for.

The questionnaire a potential adoptive parent will complete for their application includes every illicit or prescription drug listed. As you respond to each potentially harmful drug, you must decide whether you would be comfortable with frequent, occasional, or no drug use by the birth mother while a baby is in utero. Our first response as adoptive parents would more than likely be that we want to adopt a healthy baby and would rather the birth mother have not taken any substances that would possibly cause impairment to the baby. However, the fact of the matter is that in many cases of adoption, a birth mother has previously been exposed to something on that long list of risks — whether something small like drinking alcohol before knowing she was pregnant or something greater like the sustained use of illegal substances. Many times, when a birth mother discovers she is pregnant, she no longer partakes in said substance, or she checks into a facility that will assist her in a rehab program for the health of the baby. Even then, a baby who has already been exposed can still see effects from a drug after their birth.

The application also includes a selection of diseases or illnesses in the prospective birth parents’ family medical history, and asks adoptive parents to consider the possibility of these conditions being passed from the birth mother to the baby when he or she is born. You will see listed such things as Hepatitis, Sickle Cell Anemia, HIV, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and many more. Which of these conditions would you consider adapting to if your adopted child were to grow up with similar symptoms? How do you know the possibility of the child inheriting any of these traits? What are your chances of being matched with an adopted child if you significantly limit cases containing less-than-perfect possibilities?

As you consider the medical conditions and substance exposure you are open to as a waiting adoptive family, here are three tips that may help you make your decision.

1. Know Your Agency’s Screening Process

You can first learn from the adoption agency you are working with how they screen the social and medical backgrounds of the prospective birth mothers that they represent. Does the agency require a doctor’s examination to determine any diagnosed illnesses or substances found in the expectant mother’s system? Or will the agency work closely with the potential birth mom as they gain her trust and allow her to disclose any details related to her medical history herself?

2. Talk to a Medical Professional

There are also levels of substance abuse to consider and various illnesses to research when opening yourself up to their effects. One of your best resources for many of these questions is your local pediatrician. You can set up a time to meet with the doctor and discuss any residual effects certain substances would have on the health of a child or if risks are lower with some drugs on the list. He or she can also offer advice based on any illnesses the birth parents may have and if the child would be susceptible to carrying the same disease or illness in their life as well.

3. Be Comfortable With What You Decide

An adoption wait time can be affected based on how many restrictions are placed on the application. Will there be a degree of guilt if you say no to certain cases? Some hopeful parents may exhibit some type of remorseful feeling when placing conditions on which child will be brought into your home.

However, families of many kinds are just like you, searching to add to the love in their home. Different families are equipped to nurture and care for all kinds of children. Your family must feel at ease with the decisions you make when choosing adoption. yes, your wait time to be matched with an adopted child can depend on what your application says and the responses you gave. But each case you are presented with can be an opportunity for a child to find their forever family, and one day, your wait will be over.

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